Reflections on pain

I wrote this piece almost exactly four years ago, when I was experiencing severe back pain.

We were born from pain. Every mother who has ever given birth to a child has undergone some kind of severe pain, even if she had an epidural or a Caesarian section. Her body knew the pain.

Our heartbeats, our breaths, our eyes first lit up in the earthly realm as our mothers’ bodies opened to physical labor and the tearing of tissues. Somewhere in the depths of physical pain there is an umbilical cord that links us to all of humanity. In every sensation of pain this cord tethers us, whether we recognize it or not.

All sentient beings experience physical and mental pain at one time or another. The forms of this pain vary widely. Sometimes we forget that we all share the experience of pain. Sometimes we get lost in thoughts that propel us into behaviors to escape the pain. Of course we want relief! Of course we want ease!

In the relatively short time I have been alive, I have experienced severe pains, both physical and mental, from heart procedures, Crohn’s disease, major abdominal surgery, car accidents, migraines, pelvic pain, various biopsy procedures, and now sciatica. Each form of pain has broken me open in a different way. Each sensation of pain has helped me to understand healing; that we are all part of a vigorous and sometimes clumsy movement towards wholeness. Wholeness is the consciousness within all of us that knows no boundaries. Pain can take us across thresholds of perceived solitude into oceans of collective consciousness. Pain itself comes and goes in waves. When we look for the materiality of pain we can’t find it. There is no singular cause of our pain. It is not constant (as much as we may perceive it to be) nor is it a permanent condition (even when it is chronic). We experience collections of sensations that are linked to all phenomena. We may be programmed biologically to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Thus the notion of going into our pain may seem anathema to us. We might wonder, “Why the hell would I want to do that?”

I write these lines as the medicines for pain relief begin to enter my bloodstream at 5:30am. I still feel the sting of the pulsing sensations of sciatica pain in my lower back. Inside and in between the waves of painful sensations there are spaces. These spaces are like clear open fields in my consciousness. There is nothing to do or say or be in these spaces. Silent and free of the routine thoughts I often find myself in, these spaces are the emptiness in which all things are connected. When I rest in them, even for seconds at a time, I arrive whole, without thoughts to tear me away or apart. I arrive whole, simply whole.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The one thing I like about pain « Determined To Heal

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